Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish new year, begins at sunset on Wednesday, Sept. 20 and ends at nightfall on Friday, Spet. 22. Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, begins at sunset on Sept. 29.
Jewish denominational identity
At sunset on Wednesday, the Jewish calendar will change to year 5778. Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) is packed with mitzvahs, special foods and traditions.
Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” in Hebrew. It is a time for reflection and repentance, and is referred to as the “day of judgment” or the “day of repentance.”
Rosh Hashanah begins the High Holy Days or Ten Days of Penitence, which end with Yom Kippur. During this time, Jewish people attend synagogue services and refrain from working. It is also customary during this time to wear new clothes and get haircuts.
Another popular practice is to eat apples dipped in honey, symbolizing the hope for a good year to come. Also, challah bread in round loaves instead of braided loaves is dipped in honey instead of salt. Pomegranates are eaten because the seeds are symbolic of the many commandments in the Torah.
Another popular ritual is to walk to a river or stream and recite special prayers of penitence. Afterward, one throws bread crumbs in the river, to symbolically cast away sins.
On Sept. 29 just a few minutes before sunset, Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar will be observed. Yom Kippur is known as the “Day of Atonement” and the following five things are to be avoided:
- Eating or drinking
- Wearing leather shoes
- Applying lotions or creams
- Washing or bathing
- Engaging in conjugal relations
The shofar (ram’s horn) is possibly the most ancient and iconic Jewish ritual object. It is traditionally blown in synagogues on Rosh Hashanah as well as other occasions.
“The blast of the shofar is intended as a wake-up call, telling us to take the time to regenerate and reflect so that we can channel new blessings and bring focus to our life in preparation of a new year,”
– Rabbi Shmuel Fuss, Chabad Jewish Community Center of Riverside executive director
Throughout the shofar service, four different sounds are called out:
- Tekiah – One long blast
- Shevraim – Three medium blasts
- Teruah – Nine or ten short staccato sounds
- Tekiah Gedolah – One extra long note